The Law, must fulfil its duty in protecting individuals. In determining whether Laws should only be created to prevent harm to others we must consider the implications of restricting legislation to this purpose. Harm can be defined in numerous ways however, I would argue the most appropriate definition for harm in this context would be impairment to an individuals physical or mental wellbeing. Whilst some may argue such a definition is too broad and the Law does not have the resources or capability to enforces rules in regards to such a broad definition I believe, a fundamental purpose of the Law is protection and this should not be neglected or diminished. In my opinion, the Law owes a duty towards its citizens and in doing so harm should not only be prevented to others but also to the individual themselves.
A main critisim of the statement above is that it does not consider the individual's safety and instead places emphasis on the safety of others. I believe both should be considered equally and hence disagree with the statement and believe laws should be extended to prevent harm to all individuals including oneself. A prevalent issue of today's society is the risk of self harm and suicide particularly amongst the youth. The Law must respond to such an issue by enacting Law's that will protect a young person who is in a vulnerable state of mind and may self harm or commit suicide. Whilst an individual may pose risks to other citizens, they also pose a risk to themselves and such a risk is often overlooked. The Law should continue to evolve and recognise this growing risk and attempt to prevent the risk developing any further. As suicide rates rapidly increase a suggestion we should be making is to enact more Laws that will prevent harm to oneself as well as others.
Some may support the above statement and only agree with Laws that prevent harm to others rather than Laws that prevent harm to oneself. This is because the Law should not contradict the essential human right of freedom and preventing a person from harming oneself is a direct violation of this right. It is an individual's own body and own life therefore they should be permitted to do whatever they would like to it. Consequently, in deciding whether the Law should only be enacted to prevent harm to others we must decide what is more important: freedom or protection. I believe the Law should prioritise protection over freedom as without protection a person will not be able to use their freedom. If an indidivual manages to engage in severe self harm they will be in such a state that they are no longer able to exercise their human right of freedom,and therefore both issues of freedom and protection are neglected. However, if an individual is protected against severe self harm, they are able to exercise the right of freedom in situations where it is necessary and will prevent other issues.
Ultimately, unwanted harm must be prevented. When a person harms another, the victim is usually unaware and would not consent to this harm for example passive smoking. For this reason it is the Law's duty to prevent this unwanted harm to innocent victims and this is accomplished through criminal law and the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 along with many other statues. Furthermore, the Law is limited in terms of the sentence it can give to those who have self-harmed. An individual who attempted suicide should clearly not be imprisoned but would require relevant mental health treatment which the Law does not have the funds or time to provide. The time spent prosecuting individuals who have engaged in voluntary self harm is arguably better spent in lowering the threat of involuntary harm criminals pose to the rest of society.The Law should priotise the prevention of involuntary harm towards others over the prevention of voluntary self harm. However, I believe the Law owes an equal duty to every individual including oneself. All harm should be prevented regardless of who it is aimed at.
In conclusion, both the needs of society and the needs of the individual must be balanced in determining the Law's purpose in protection. I believe the Law owes an equal duty to both the individual and rest of society and therefore, Laws should be enacted that prevent harm to oneself as well as others. Protection of an individual should be prioritised over freedom and in doing so, Laws should be enacted to prevent harm to onself as well as others.
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- Thread Starter
- 19-10-2017 20:52